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There is something to be said for how British Conservatives pick their leaders. The campaign to choose Boris Johnson’s successor is unfolding with merciful swiftness compared with the agonizing, and largely pointless, journey Canada’s Tories have been on for many months now.

Britain’s Conservatives, who will have selected Mr. Johnson’s successor five days before their Canadian counterparts finally unveil their new leader on Sept. 10, took less than two weeks to whittle the original field of 11 candidates down to two serious contenders after Mr. Johnson’s July 7 resignation. British Tories are hence spared the spectacle of a campaign tainted by unserious fringe candidates, allegations of illegal funding, and a rush to sell membership cards.

Not that the eight-month-long campaign to replace Erin O’Toole will likely have made any difference in the end, with populist pretender Pierre Poilievre poised since the outset to capture the poisoned chalice of Canadian politics that is the Conservative Party leadership.

The party looks set to embrace the grievance politics of U.S. Republicans and the European far right, just as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his fellow Liberals always hoped it would. They know that, faced with a Conservative Party leader who gives succour to misguided anti-vaxxers, angry truckers and right-wing conspiracy theorists, mainstream Canadian voters will opt for the comparatively safe Liberals, no matter how irritatingly woke the party’s leadership becomes.

Some supporters of Poilievre rival Jean Charest have concluded as much and are already musing about the creation of a new centre-right political party that would look, well, a lot like the old Progressive Conservative Party Mr. Charest led between 1993 and 1998.

Oddly enough, the possibility of creating a new-old political home for Red Tories has even been publicly evoked by the co-chairperson of Mr. Charest’s current leadership campaign, political consultant Tasha Kheiriddin. That has only further fuelled charges that the former Liberal premier of Quebec is not a real Conservative.

Speculation that a new political party could be launched once Mr. Poilievre has officially locked up the leadership is also being stoked by a group that calls itself Centre Ice Conservatives. It is holding a conference in Edmonton next month to provide a platform for political orphans. Ms. Kheiriddin is slated to speak at the event, along with former Liberal British Columbia premier Christy Clark.

“Who speaks for the majority of mainstream Canadians, who describe themselves as fiscal conservatives with progressive views on social issues?” the group’s founder, former Tory leadership candidate Rick Peterson, writes on Centre Ice’s website. “Who speaks for those of us focused on pragmatic solutions and policies? Who speaks for those of us who dismay at the loud, single-issue and predictably slanted views that often dominate Party politics and leadership races?”

Considering that the central conceit of Mr. Charest’s campaign to lead the current Conservative Party has been precisely about offering Canadians a big-tent vision for the country that corresponds perfectly with Mr. Peterson’s wish list, his woeful plaint is unfounded. The problem is that far more Tories appear to prefer the resentful rhetoric and simplistic solutions Mr. Poilievre is peddling.

Indeed, the Conservative Party has been on this trajectory since the 2003 merger of the Canadian Alliance and Progressive Conservatives. While he was prime minister, former leader Stephen Harper managed to keep the party’s fringe elements and MPs in line. But as the opposition, the populist members in caucus have since been free to indulge in their idiotic rampages.

It is not for nothing that former PC prime minister Brian Mulroney, who once considered party loyalty sacrosanct, recently said he does not recognize himself in the current Conservative Party. The only alternative left for Red Tories like Mr. Charest, Ms. Kheiriddin and Mr. Peterson is to start anew.

La Presse columnist Yves Boisvert wrote this week that a person close to the Charest campaign had suggested that Mr. Charest might seek to emulate French President Emmanuel Macron, who created his own political party to launch his 2017 bid for the Élysée Palace.

But the unique circumstances that enabled Mr. Macron to pull off his improbable feat are not necessarily replicable in this country. What’s more, Mr. Macron’s party lost its National Assembly majority in last month’s legislative elections, raising serious questions about its own staying power.

Even if a new centre-right political party were to emerge in the wake of a Poilievre victory on Sept. 10, it is not clear if Mr. Charest, at 64, would be the obvious person to lead it. Mr. Macron was not yet 40 when he founded La République en Marche. And Mr. Charest’s current leadership campaign, while solid and principled, has not exactly caught on with the broader Canadian electorate.

Still, if only to restore some sanity to federal politics, no one should discourage Mr. Charest from trying.

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